Photo of the Week
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    [post_date] => 2013-08-15 06:54:31
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As the van winded down the tiny dirt road on our way to transference I started to consider the questions that I was supposed to journal about last night, but didn't due to the fact I had become slightly preoccupied trying to clean my Tevas, which had begun to give off the sent of a landfill. "How can we start thinking about adjusting to home?" and "How can we take what we have  learned here home?" I carefully read the first question, which i had scribed in tiny block handwriting, Adjusting to home...? I had been living at home for fifteen years... what could I possible have to adjust to. I don't feel any different and I really haven't changed at all  I thought as the bus jerked around another hair pin turn, how can I have to adjust if i'm not any different? After thinking about it for another minute I moved on to the next question. "How can we take what we learned here home?" immediately I give the most obvious answer I can think of... I have no idea. And honestly i didn't... I had learned so much stuff! How could I share everything and even if I could... Who would care? When we arrived at earth lodge we did tons of activities, some more serious then others but all with a similar message, but on the second to last day we all gathered together on the big leather sofas in the dining room of earth lodge where we began to talk about how to deal with the fact that our families and friends might not understand our experiences here. We split up into smaller groups, where my group began discussing how our families and friends would understand. These people have known us for years and some for our whole lives, how could they not understand? In the next days I never really got a clear answer to either of those questions, I got on the plane back to NY  more or less accepting that maybe there wasn't really an answer. When I arrived at Leguardia I sprinted across the airport, There had been so much excitement building up to this moment and I couldn't wait to see my family! When I saw them standing by the "Domestic Arrivals" sign I ran up to them giving them all huge hugs and as soon as my grip released I began to share the story of my trip. "The first place we went was Nueva Alianza..." and after the thirty minutes at baggage claim, the 5 minute walk to the car, and the hour and a half drive to the cheesecake factory, where I had begged my mom to take me for my first night home, I finished with "and that was our last day at earth lodge." When we were walking into the restaurant I started telling my family some of the inside jokes of our group, while I was cracking my self up... they didn't really get them at all. I didn't expect them to get the jokes but I guess it just was my first realization of being home. While eating at the restaurant everyone seemed a little surprised that I could barely finish a quarter of my salad and that after only a few bights of cheesecake I was completely full. It was hard to explain that after six weeks of small portions, a sole diet of beans and tortillas, and barely any heavy foods or cream it would be a while before I could eat regular American food. In the next day or so my twin brother and little sister, whom I share a bathroom with, found it odd that there was a giant pile of toilet paper in the garbage can. I had become so used to the delicate Guatemalan pipe system, where throwing paper in the toilet is practically a federal offense, that it seemed so weird to throw the paper in the toilet and for the first couple days at home I almost never did. It seemed like people thought I was supposed to have a switch, live by Guatemalan customs in Guatemala and American ones in America. When I began sharing my journey with my friends I finally understood the lesson we'd had on that day in Earth Lodge. I started by telling people about the pilá and how you used it to wash your clothes. I explained how you Take your clothes and dip them in a bucket of soapy water, then you rub them across a rock that has creases in it, while at the same time taking water from the center of the pilá and pouring it on your clothes to get the soap out. Most times after explaining the pilá I got almost identical questions from everyone. how did your clothes ever get clean? and why didn't you just go to a laundromat? I explained how I was mostly in very poor and rural areas and that laundromats are very expensive and a luxury for most people in Guatemala and then went on to a less important matter of explaining how they were definitely not always perfectly clean. I usually went on to answer a series of questions regarding showers, which I explained were cold, which was followed by shock and then i usually went on to explain how clean running water doesn't really exist. I began to become very frustrated by the lack of understanding about the outside world, especially when it came to bigger issues. When I started talking about the immigration testimonies I had heard, I was usually cut off rather quickly, while someone started on a deep explanation there political position on the issue. I tried to think back even before the trip to remember what my image of immigration had once been. I couldn't remember to be honest, I just saw faces. I saw the faces of the people who had shared there immigration stories with us. I thought of my friend Elena's home stay dad, how he had walked three days across the dessert in terrible heat, with no food, and little water to drink. He then worked in the construction business for 7 years with little contact to his family back at home just so he could save enough money to buy plots of land and build houses for all of his kids. He gave up 7 years, his family, and the freedom of being a citizen so he could give his kids a better life. Then I think of Roberto. Roberto was our guide on the three day trek from Todos Santos to Nebaj. When I think of him, I think of a nice and extremely funny guy, who in three short days became a part of our dragons family. He told us that after crossing the border the first time he was picked up by immigration and sent back to Mexico, where he then crossed the boarder again so he to could work in construction. As Roberto was telling us this story I remember back to the hike we took up El Torre with Roberto and his two youngest daughters and in that moment I think... "So thats what it takes." I remember playing duck, duck, goose with his daughters and now I am realizing what it takes for someone to leave there family behind and cross the boarder not once but two times, and as this thought is crossing my mind Roberto says "Yo quería una vida mejor para mis hijos" I wanted a better life for my kids. The last two people I think of Aby and Elliani. These two faces are possibly the strangest ones you could associate with immigration. My two homestay sisters, whom are ages 4 and 8, are some of the sweetest, most energetic, and intelligent kids I have ever met. These two girls came into my room every night at seven o'clock on the dot right after dinner, where we would proceed to play  UNO tournaments for the next three hours until there mom would come get them for bed, then every night as she came up they hid under the bed begging not to leave. Aby and Ellianis dad is in America, "Mi esposo quiere a las niñas a ir a la universidad" My husband wants the girls to go to college my homestay mom told me . In the moment I couldn't imagine how these two amazing little girls wouldn't go to college but then I realized just like a hot shower or a laundry machine college is a luxury to, which sadly isn't one afforded to many indiginous people in Guatemala. On the last night with the girls I held them in my arms as they begged me not to leave... all I could think about was there future. More then anything in the world, I want these girls to become amazing people, who despite there odds made something of themselves. and while I hugged them and gave them there last goodbye, It didn't matter whether there dad was legal or illegal. As long as he was there doing everything he could for these two little girls... then it didn't really matter. Following my thoughts on immigration I would usually proceeded to talk about My ISP (independent study project) on education. Usually within my first sentence a comment would be chipped in on how sad it is that children in Guatemala get taken out of school so early to work or because there parents can't pay for it. "How do they know?" I think to myself. They didn't see the primary school in Todos Santos where the teachers bend over backwards to accomodate the needs of there students and where the girls basketball team was only a single game away from making it to the national championship and what about the Middle school in Pachaj. In this tiny "corn town", 95% of the children were still attending school at middle school age. I began to become so angry that people were just assuming that thats the way Guatemala is even though they don't really know. I began to not like sharing the stories very much and just lwt people ask questions... It was easier that way. Usually after the frustrating talk about all of this I add a few small comments about chicken buses and swimming in Lake Atitilan, when Im then asked... "So what was your favorite thing?" I rewind my trip back in my head and it always stops in the same place. "The civil war testimony" I respond. Often people don't have much of a comment on this because it is not generally taught in school but if they do its usually a few textbook facts about how the guerrilla army was fighting the guatemalan government. When I picture the civil war all I see is hurt. The pain in the eyes of the woman who gave the testimonies is all I can see. I have made myself almost unable to see the bigger picture, After that day when we had  lessons about the civil war all I could picture was two woman who got everything they loved cruelly ripped away. I don't see and Army, I don't see a government, and I don't see a bigger picture, All I can see in pain   On a rainy day after a long day of farm work I really didn't want to go to the civil war testimony but I managed to get my self up and started on the 30 minute walk to the classroom where it was being held. When I walked in to the room, I took my seat and then I proceeded to look at the woman who would be giving the testimony. She looked like she was in around her late 60's and she appeared as if she was going to burst into tears at any moment. When the testimony started she began to explain in her native language, ikil, how she had had 3 husbands. The first was killed by the Guatemalan government and the second and third vanished and she still to this day doesn't know if they are dead or alive. Then she explained after deciding she was done with marriages, she moved on to a corn farm. One day while tending to her farm she saw smoke, She ran up the hill to find that her house had been burned to the ground. She let out a sob and with a cracked voice said "What if I had been in there...?" While she was finishing another older woman walked in the room and took a seat on a stool beside the translator. Before she even proceeded to tell her story tears were falling gently down her face on to the beautiful embroidered flowers on her skirt. "My dad was very sick" she explained "I went to go see him for a few days and when I returned my house was burned down" she then took a long pause and continued  "when I returned home my house was burned down... with my husband and brother inside it." A silence swept over the room and the only noises you could hear were the light sobs of the speakers. This morning when I woke up I briefly recalled the questions I couldn't even begin to think of answers to less then a week ago, and started thinking about if I had any answers now because I have been home for a few days. Originally I said no again, but then I remembered walking out the door after the civil war testimony and the thought that had gone through my head " why would they ever want to tell that story?" and then I remember thinking to myself "Its cause were the future... If there story is going to live on it is going to be through us." Finally I think I have come up with my answer to both questions. as a matter a fact there are 14 answers to these questions. Each and every member of this dragons group, students and instructors alike, were given a responsibility. We have become the "Cultural middle-man." This even includes small things like explaining why we went on this trip and what we got out of it. And then it also includes big things. I realized that not everyone gets the opportunity we were given to go to this amazing country and to get to hear the stories we heard, so I can't get mad if they have the veiws they do, even if they now seem wrong to me... because I once saw life that way to. I looked at it only through my life back home because I simply  didn't have another way to look at it. So now its our job to not so much change peoples views on things but to tell them our stories so they are given the opportunity to "see through a different lens" or in simpler terms learn a different perspective. So maybe instead of seeing immigration as something that causes crime, for example, they can see the faces of two little girls who want nothing more in this world then to make something of themselves. Or for the few people who do learn about the civil war in school they can try to remember this story, so when your learning about the "bigger picture" of the war you can put a face with the 200,000 indiginous people who lost there lives during the war. And for the many students that won't learn about the civil war the most important thing to remember is best explained by a speech I heard a few years ago by a holocaust survivor who started her testimony by saying " I hate telling this story... But if we don't tell the stories.. people will forget.. and when people forget... Thats when it happens again" So remember the stories and share them with other people because by sharing the stories we can go from 14 answers to 50 and 50 and to 100 and 100 to 1000 and when that happens... thats where change begins. So thats the answer... tell the stories because if I learned one thing on this trip its that you can't change the whole world but you can gain knowledge and when you share that knowledge... Thats where change begins.   (the first photo is of my first home stay sisters aby and elliani, the second is at the top of La Torre with the whole group, Roberto, and his Daughters, the third is a traditional pila, The last is of the Basico (middle school) in pachaj) [post_title] => The 14 Answers [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => the-14-answers [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2013-08-15 06:54:31 [post_modified_gmt] => 2013-08-15 12:54:31 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://wheretherebedragons.com/?p=90251 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 217 [name] => Guatemala Summer 6-week [slug] => guatemala-summer-6-week [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 217 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 253 [count] => 35 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 12.1 [cat_ID] => 217 [category_count] => 35 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Guatemala Summer 6-week [category_nicename] => guatemala-summer-6-week [category_parent] => 253 [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/summer-2013/guatemala-summer-6-week/ ) ) [category_links] => Guatemala Summer 6-week )
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The 14 Answers

Morgan Solender,Guatemala Summer 6-week

Description

As the van winded down the tiny dirt road on our way to transference I started to consider the questions that I was supposed to journal about last night, but didn’t due to the fact I had become slightly preoccupied trying to clean my Tevas, which had begun to give off the sent of a […]

Posted On

08/15/13

Author

Morgan Solender

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    [post_date] => 2013-08-08 13:33:54
    [post_date_gmt] => 2013-08-08 19:33:54
    [post_content] => There’s a magnetic compulsion that captures visitors from a pass that empties into Lake Atitlan. The scientific explanation is gravity. And a number of individuals who have to be somewhere immediately and attend to overloaded schedules would accept the most timely and convenient explanation. However, gravity varies in degree of force and is not necessarily one-directional. If you look closely, you can see moisture and mountains rising up in defiance of gravity. You can see birds soaring on jet streams practically at rest in the comfort of their balanced counterpoint. You can even see rock climbers on cliff faces testing their strength against this unobjectionable force, while they are at the same time secured by it from the weight of their partner below.

While in San Lucas Toliman, Rony, director of IMAP (Mesoamerican center for Permaculture), encouraged the group to consider the gravitational force that the moon exerts on the earth at different points during its cycle. Of course, there is merit in understanding this cycle for the sake of knowledge alone. But our friends at IMAP challenged us to identify interconnectedness (a foundational principle in Permaculture) in subjects that might otherwise seem unrelated. Therefore, we considered gravitational fluctuations from the perspective of a farmer who wants a seed to grow tall and fast. But we didn’t want to limit our scope of application to agricultural purposes alone, so the next time we want our hair to grow, we’ll cut it when the full moon is approaching.

Although Rony lives in San Lucas, he considers himself an inhabitant of a lake ecosystem.

Whether or not we have noticed it as individuals or as a group, we have been learning to stretch our minds like a climber’s dynamic rope. In doing so, we’ve learned to tackle difficult questions, be bold, cultivate strength of mind and body, and of course, absorb the shock of inevitable falls.

Our final days on course have been spent overlooking the city of Antigua, reflecting on our collective experience. And although the following contributions from each member of our group are brief, we hope they capture to some extent the depth of experience that brought them to mind…

Guate Seis would like to say:

You learn the most about yourself in the face of adversity

Learn to dance in the rain

I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul (William Ernest Henley)

We are not inherently racist, prejudice, or judgmental. We must follow our instinct to be caring and compassionate

Share the surplus

People are like stained glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is light from within

Everything happens for a reason

This trip will give you more than you ever expected

Be Yourself because everyone else is taken

The fogs of truths and lies will be filled with new built ties

If you don’t claim your symbol someone else will

To live would be an awfully big adventure

No worries…
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Guatemala Summer 6-week

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Gravity Ask, Levity Responds…

Sean Kelly,Guatemala Summer 6-week

Description

There’s a magnetic compulsion that captures visitors from a pass that empties into Lake Atitlan. The scientific explanation is gravity. And a number of individuals who have to be somewhere immediately and attend to overloaded schedules would accept the most timely and convenient explanation. However, gravity varies in degree of force and is not necessarily […]

Posted On

08/8/13

Author

Sean Kelly

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    [post_content] => The group has arrived safely in Miami....

Students are awaiting their domestic flights and are on their way home!
    [post_title] => Students have arrived in the states!
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Guatemala Summer 6-week

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Students have arrived in the states!

Sarah Byrden,Guatemala Summer 6-week

Description

The group has arrived safely in Miami…. Students are awaiting their domestic flights and are on their way home!

Posted On

08/8/13

Author

Sarah Byrden

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    [post_date] => 2013-08-06 08:40:47
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    [post_content] => Dear Guatemala Students & Families,

This weekend marks the end of our Guatemala program and students will soon return home to share tales with each of you.

We will have a Dragons Administrator on call for the duration of the travel day and we will be in contact if there are any suspected delays.

We wish all students a great trip home. Please leave us a voice message on extension 30 if you are not able to reach us during office hours. We will be checking our messages throughout the evening.

Sincerely,

BoulderAdmin

To check on the status of the group’s international flight, please refer to:

https://www.aa.com/travelInformation/travelInformationHomeAccess.do?v_locale=en_US&v_mobileUAFlag=AA

The students are traveling home on the following American Airlines Flight:

Returning Flight:

August 8th, 2013

American Airlines #AA 968

Depart: Guatemala City (GUA) 7:00am

Arrive: Miami (MIA) 11:35am
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Guatemala Summer 6-week

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Return Flight Information

Dragons Admin,Guatemala Summer 6-week

Description

Dear Guatemala Students & Families, This weekend marks the end of our Guatemala program and students will soon return home to share tales with each of you. We will have a Dragons Administrator on call for the duration of the travel day and we will be in contact if there are any suspected delays. We […]

Posted On

08/6/13

Author

Dragons Admin

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    [post_date] => 2013-08-01 12:13:01
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    [post_content] => Finally after 2 long hours we arrived in Panajachel. I exited the crowded chicken bus where people sat shoulder to shoulder piling three people to a seat. Stepping lazily, stuffed from sketchy street tacos and tortas, I was happy to have successfully fought down my lunch during the winding and bouncing of the road scattered with potholes. This was where I belonged, an uneven but solid ground. I waddled over the catch the bags being tossed off the side of the bus to join the group. As soon as we were packed we were greeted with plenty of offers like, "Would you like to stay at a hotel?", "Do you need a ride?" and "Please can you buy this?". In all the places I've stayed so far I've never encountered so much attention? Hospitality? No, this was different. Our group walked down the street smiling and chatting with one another and I took a moment. I breathed in the town listening, watching, and feeling.
Unlike Todos Santos traditional clothing hung up on the walls empty of people and emotion. I couldn't differentiate one skirt from another, they had no identities but they were pretty. It wasn't like the red and white stripped pants that my good friend Roberto made me. I looked into shop after shop only able to see the price tags of the items. Its easy to go somewhere, buy something and, tell someone, its truly effortless. My time with Roberto started on a cold morning day getting lost in an endless field of corn, he showed me how to get to town center where I met the group. Little did I know he would also journey with us for a three day walk from Todos Santos to Nebaj where we would eat, sleep, and laugh about nothing due to a language barrier. We admired each others cultures and the future before us knowing that one day, we may never meet again. Roberto will always be in my memory and these pants are much more than just pants, but an acceptance of culture.
Panajachel is quiet, unlike Cotzal where the roosters and dogs would contest to wake me up at 3:00 in the morning. It was unlike Cotzal where children would laugh at me and call me a chino (I'm not Chinese), instead they told me that "this" a keychain "was a good price." There was no wind blowing through corn fields or chewing of cows, no chatter of markets or sizzling of street tacos. I was offered a menu not hospitality, a hotel not a culture. All activities that I grew so used to in Guatemala were not there.
The streets in Nebaj were filled with people walking, working, and children talking. There were armed guards, a military presence, graffiti, and political posters sprayed on walls. Panajachel was clean, no barking dogs, friendly unarmed guards, and no political propaganda. The streets were bare only a few people wandering in silence. I missed the occasional "buenos dias" or "adios" from the communities.
We walked single filed to the dock with little direction or knowledge of where we were headed, to the water, we all thought. I saw big menus on the side of the road with the labels "Ribs" and Tropical chicken". In all my days here some tropical chicken would have been a good change to the daily ten tortillas, beans, and eggs. Yet I fell in love with those tortillas, I fell in love with Xela pan (bread in Xela), and found pride in eating like their people. I couldn't find a single panaderia in Panajachel, where in other cities they were usually just around the corner. I missed the crowds, the bickering of people, and traditional elders.
Five weeks ago if you had put me in this town I would have thought, "Wow this is Guatemala? Tropical trees? Five star resturants? A big lake and volcano? Its just like on T.V. This is paradise!" But no, I lived on dirt floors, wooden beds, showered in icy bucket water, and lived with strange families. I looked out into the lake as I prepared to get into a boat that would take me across to San Lucas Toliman. It was beautiful, small waves, clouds hovering on it, and my amazing group. Then I looked back to the town. I knew why I wanted to buy everything, why it was so empty, and why everyone wanted to sell me something.
This town was for people who don't have time for crowds, who have money to buy things, and who need a place to escape their busy lives at home. But only temporarily, only until the vacation is up, then they have to return to that busy life, repeat the daily routine, and go somewhere else next time. You still don't know problems in Guatemala or around the world, you still don't know the people that live here, and you still don't know how much you can grow. We are not talking about being "still" though, we are talking about moving forward. To expand your mind to encompass more than just your life or vacation but how your life can benefit anothers. We need to move pass the little town labeled tourist. Its amazing how much of an impact you can make by just listening to another person's story, then taking another step and sharing yours. To understand their hardships and their way of life. We would no longer be stuck in an idea that we live in paradise when its presented to you that way. We can dig deeper and find more satisfaction that is not temporary. The truth is that you don't even need to be in another country every face, every family, every culture has a story. When you finally understand someone, you are no longer working for someone or talking to someone, you are working with them. You've decided to accept the differences, realize problems, and make a change. Change is something people are afraid of and its true, it is scary. Its scary to know that you can be rejected, that you can get lost, that you can fail but we can also be accepted, find a way, and succeed. Every chance we take is a step forward and we all lose sometimes. Its easy to linger in the failures but don't forget to treasure your success. Things can be fixed but not if we don't try. It takes more than 1 step to finish a race and maybe we can all finish together.
    [post_title] => Paradise
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Guatemala Summer 6-week

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Paradise

Hang Thao,Guatemala Summer 6-week

Description

Finally after 2 long hours we arrived in Panajachel. I exited the crowded chicken bus where people sat shoulder to shoulder piling three people to a seat. Stepping lazily, stuffed from sketchy street tacos and tortas, I was happy to have successfully fought down my lunch during the winding and bouncing of the road scattered […]

Posted On

08/1/13

Author

Hang Thao

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    [post_content] => I wake to a world where who I was is not who I am,

where my history doesn't exist,

where my roots are torn from this Earth.

 

Who am I? For the rooster calls to the sun as the wolves to the moon.

Where do I stand when the machine screeches out my name or mother Earth cries in pain.

 

I am born onto the silver platter of opportunity.

Before me lies a road paved of gold and around it trails covered in thorns.

Some will blindly pursue the gold but others, other will help clear the trails and fight the thorns.

 

I am a voice as others are forced silent.

I am the ears to the whispers and screams

I am eyes where others are blind

I feel pain, but that of my neighbors

I smell pollution and corruption of minds.

 

I am no king, so gold has no value, when lives are at steak and fortune is future.

 

I have a choice into an idea into a step into a dream, where one day, we will all walk on gold.

 

But I am not alone.
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Guatemala Summer 6-week

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Trails By Thorn

Hang Thao,Guatemala Summer 6-week

Description

I wake to a world where who I was is not who I am, where my history doesn’t exist, where my roots are torn from this Earth.   Who am I? For the rooster calls to the sun as the wolves to the moon. Where do I stand when the machine screeches out my name […]

Posted On

08/1/13

Author

Hang Thao

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    [post_date] => 2013-07-28 20:57:10
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    [post_content] => I came to Guatemala expecting to have fun, learn some Spanish, and come to understand a little more about the Guatemalan culture. I have accomplished all of these things. I now know how to wash my clothes in a pila, how to catch a chicken bus, and how to tortillar (make tortillas). I have made great connection with all of my companeros, and I am no longer self- conscious of my Spanish. However, I have gained so much more beyond these superficial and premature ideas. This trip in and of itself has truly helped me to become a more introspective, confident, and calmer person. This may seem to be a lot to accomplish in a mere four and a half weeks, but this also speaks to the impact that this course has.

One of the things I find most inspiring about Guatemala is the resiliency and tenants behind the Mayan culture. Although, foreigners and other religions have tried to denounce or alter Mayan traditions, it is still very much present in Guatemalan culture. The reason people fight to keep the Mayan traditions alive is because these traditions are and should be ingrained and complement their everyday lives. In a country where everyone grows and consumes corn as an integral part of every meal, it makes sense that they would give thanks to nan (mother earth) and tat (sky or heaven) for producing it.  Mayan culture is simple and yet profound in the way that they have rooted out the concepts that govern their lives and tried to safeguard them. Their ability has prompted me to also root out the essential parts of my being. I have come to understand that as long as I have myself and know who I am, I should not worry over what the world will throw at me. If the Mayan religion can fight through a storm of skepticism and scorn, I can fight through a drizzle of self- doubt.

In Pachaj, we learned about how to fully experience and appreciate a Mayan ceremony. First, you should look into your heart and ask for forgiveness from those that you have hurt. Secondly, you should give thanks. Thanks to the air, water, earth, mothers, fathers, family members, and companeros. Finally, you should ask for things, but these things should not be selfish desires. They should be heartfelt unselfish desires for the betterment of the world around you. During this portion of the lesson, I realized something. These are things we should be doing everyday, not just because we are told to do so.

At first this realization made me feel saddened; because, it took 18 years for this idea to click. However, I was again awash in a sense of gratitude for the experiences I have had on this trip. There is something so sincere and yet proud of the Guatemalan people. I believe that this  stems from their deep appreciation of nature and family and their contentment with the lives they lead. I hope that I will someday reach this same level of contentment.

Eventually I will leave Guatemala and its culture. I may forget some of the people I meet here, but I will never forget and will always be thankful for the lessons this country and its amazing people have taught me.

 
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Guatemala Summer 6-week

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Realizations

Solange Ganthier,Guatemala Summer 6-week

Description

I came to Guatemala expecting to have fun, learn some Spanish, and come to understand a little more about the Guatemalan culture. I have accomplished all of these things. I now know how to wash my clothes in a pila, how to catch a chicken bus, and how to tortillar (make tortillas). I have made […]

Posted On

07/28/13

Author

Solange Ganthier

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    [post_date] => 2013-07-25 10:29:12
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    [post_content] => I came to guatemala unsure of anything. I didn't know what to expect and all of the assumptions i made about guatemala were completely wrong. The photo above is a picture of me ,Olivia and Indigo in the back. I took this photo right before a very intense hike. Numerous times after i felt as if id never smile again until i got home to my mother who i miss dearly. (i love you mommy) During my hike i faced so many obstacles that i couldn't begin to imagine overcoming. There were miles and miles of uphill and pounds and pounds of things on my back. In no way shape or form did i feel it'd be possible for me to walk from Todos Santos to Cotzal. I didn't want to and i had it in my mind that i wouldn't make it. I thought i was dying at one point walking up a subida (steep hill) and i began to cry. In that moment i was sure my last smile was presented at the beginning of that hike and never again would i smile. But when i got to the top i realized i was still breathing and there was life still inside me. No i did not smile when i got to the top because the hike was still not over. But later down the road a couple of other students and i began to laugh out of the mutual feeling of pure tiredness and disbelief of how far we stepped out of our comfort zones. When i look back at how my trek was i can only laugh at all of the stupid things i did and all the hysterical conversations i had with other people.

later in my trip when i was traveling from Cotzal to Xela one of my bags was stolen from me. I was so upset because that bag had all of my shoes and medicine in it. My mom worked hard for me to have those things for this trip and i have been nothing but appreciative of all the hard work she put into getting me those items. Just in the blink of an eye it was gone forever. In that moment i wanted to disappear i just wanted to go home and i didn't want to continue my course but then i thought about it with words of wisdom from my mother. This opportunity is a once in a life time experience and whoever took my bag probably needed it more then i did. Its all replaceable and it shouldn't be enough to ruin my trip. In that moment i decided that theres nothing i can do to change what happened and i can only move on smiling to keep from feeling sad.

The point of this yak is to show that no matter what you may face theres always an opportunity to smile. Theres nothing you can do to control what happens but you can control how big you smile. In any situation the simple crack of a smile can change your perspective and the lens you look through. we can choose to focus on the negative or we can choose to pay attention to what makes us happy. So just SMILE. :)
    [post_title] => Smile
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Smile

Acatiana Harris,Guatemala Summer 6-week

Description

I came to guatemala unsure of anything. I didn’t know what to expect and all of the assumptions i made about guatemala were completely wrong. The photo above is a picture of me ,Olivia and Indigo in the back. I took this photo right before a very intense hike. Numerous times after i felt as […]

Posted On

07/25/13

Author

Acatiana Harris

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    [post_date] => 2013-07-24 14:23:16
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    [post_content] => 

During my time in Guatemala I have begun to ponder the role a United States citizen like myself plays on a global scale. I quickly came to realize the “United States” stamped into my passport practically gave me some sort of right to explore any nation in the world. But, many of these same people ever have a chance to come to the United States. This thought was because somewhat stamped into my brain as we traveled into our first homestay. In a small town in the district of Huehuetenango called Todos Santos, we heard our first testimony…

Sitting in front of me was Max is a middle aged Guatemalan man dressed in a worn down Cubs sweatshirt and a ball camp.  He proceeded to tell us about how many times he tried to attain a visa and enter the US legally. But, it was too expensive and the process was far too extensive. So after a long discussion with his family, he decided to cross the border illegally. Not only did he leave behind friends and his wife, but also five small young children. He made the arduous trek across the desert and proceeded to work incredibly hard for seven years in South Carolina, sending everything he owned back to his family in Guatemala. Despite an immense amount of homesickness he refused to return home until he'd made enough money for all five of his children to buy their own homes in Guatemala. Max and his family now live comfortably in Todos Santos, each of his five have their own homes. During his time in the United States, Max caused no harm-he merely worked, ate, slept, taking nothing that wasn't given to him.

Later during our trip, we heard a similar yet very different story from another close Guatemalan friend of the Dragons program, Roberto. Roberto made his trade in Guatemala as a tailor and a father. Similarly to Max, he wanted a better life for his family of five. Many parts of his story were similar to that of Max´s  but one thing really caught my attention. Upon crossing the border, Roberto and another fellow immigrant made their way into Arizona. Famished and starved, the pair knocked on the door of a house they saw, merely asking for water and a little food. The inhabitants of the house told them to get lost  and that if anyone found out they would get deported and they would get in trouble, the Americans closed this encounter by adding they should leave before they called the police and ultimately slammed the doors in their faces.

Why is it that the nation built on the backs of immigrants from all of the world is now so afraid of people just south of the border? These aren’t men taking American jobs, but rather taking the jobs many Americans wouldn’t. These men and many other immigrants worked as construction workers, housemaids, fields workers, etc. Don’t get me wrong, I´m not saying there aren´t bad people trying to enter the US with vice and malintent. But, I do feel that there is a problem when the nation known “culture melting pot” now is making it impossible for honest and hard working men like Robert and Max to come to the United States.

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The Power of a United States Passport

Bailey Fitzpatrick-Conner,Guatemala Summer 6-week

Description

During my time in Guatemala I have begun to ponder the role a United States citizen like myself plays on a global scale. I quickly came to realize the “United States” stamped into my passport practically gave me some sort of right to explore any nation in the world. But, many of these same people […]

Posted On

07/24/13

Author

Bailey Fitzpatrick-Conner

WP_Post Object
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    [post_date] => 2013-07-15 15:10:24
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    [post_content] => We just finished our 3 day trek from Todos Santos to Nebaj! Throughout the trekking experience I spent a lot of time consideringall the amazing things I could write about. I soon realized that as amazing as the trek was it didnt quite measure up to how amazing my Todos Santos homestay family was. When i walked into my house on the first day in Todos Santos I was greeted by 1o if not 15 members of a very large extended family. As soon as i saw this family consisting of a mother,a father, 2 aunts, 2 uncles 2 daughters, 2 sons, a great aunt, a great uncle, a grandmother, a grandfather I was just extrordinarly overwhelmed. My homestay grandmother sat me down and attempted to introduce all the members of the family, while similtaniously filling my plate with homeade tortillas and cake. I immidiatly felt at home and day after day my whole family made me feel as if i had lived in this house my entire life. There are hundreds of specific actions my Todos Santos family did for me, including waking up at all hours of the morning to make me breakfast and always telling me how my spanish is improving , but unfourtunatly i can not name them all because that would take me days. I know that chances are my homestay family will never read this but if one day by the smallest chance they happen to see this I want them to know that the kindness you showed me will always be with me, and though I dont think I will ever be able to repay the huge gift you gave me I hope this is a start.
    [post_title] => A thanks
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Guatemala Summer 6-week

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A thanks

Eva Vanek,Guatemala Summer 6-week

Description

We just finished our 3 day trek from Todos Santos to Nebaj! Throughout the trekking experience I spent a lot of time consideringall the amazing things I could write about. I soon realized that as amazing as the trek was it didnt quite measure up to how amazing my Todos Santos homestay family was. When […]

Posted On

07/15/13

Author

Eva Vanek

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